If Not Me, Who? If Not Now, When?
If not Me, who? If not now When?
The title of my article this week should be a rallying cry for everyone that is against the Hyperion Oil Refinery.
If we don’t protest this refinery, it will come. If we don’t protest this refinery now, when will we do it? After it is already approved to be built? By then it will be too late.
I’m here to tell you if there is a way for Hyperion to come in here and have a refinery built, and we don’t make a concerted effort to stop this, it will be done. I have to believe in my heart that this will never happen, but until we hear otherwise we have to presume that this is going to happen. We cannot let up for one minute or they will get the upper hand and it will be a done deal. There is something to the old saying, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Hoping and wishing is not going to solve our problem. I am a reasonable, intelligent person who can see if something isn’t done now, it will set the standard and we will never get it done. They will set the standard. Future building projects will point to what is being done now and say,” they did it, why can’t I?” I don’t think it is unreasonable for us to ask the government to protect our interests, and I don’t think it is unreasonable for us to ask whoever is building to protect our interests. I don’t think it is unreasonable for us to say you are taking advantage of our position and that is unfair. It is time to draw a line in the sand. Lead, follow, or get out of my way because this has to be stopped, but it is going to take a collective effort to do this.
"The silence we keep in the face of evil is evil. Martin Niemoller is clear about it: 'In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then, they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I didn't belong to a union. Then they came for me--and there was nobody left to speak up.' For your own sake, if nothing else, speak up." (Joan Chittister, The Monastic Way, January 2000)
A perfect example of influence is being done even as you read this letter. I wrote about the Big Stone II power plant being stopped by the EPA last week. If you read the papers, (and I read them all) you will see that the state of SD, Otter Tail Power and their investors say this is just a small bump in the road. It is merely clarification of the application that EPA is questioning and by no means is it the end of the power plant. There was an editorial by the publisher of the Argus Leader in last Thursday’s paper that everyone needs to read. The editorial says that we need this power plant if for no other reason than we need the transmission lines for access to the eastern markets for the power created by the windmills. Oh come on now!
I can assure you folks, that Clean Water Action, and the Sierra club are not against progress. They are not against creating new sources of power for the American people. What they are against is Dirty Power. They are against anything that will pollute the environment and harm you. They are against building power plants just for the sake of building a power plant. But there has to be constraint on the part of the company that insists on building something that is harmful to the air, water and land. It is not unreasonable to us to ask that great care be taken to ensure our safety. If it costs twice what they originally planned on spending for the project, so what? Build it correctly. I don’t think it is unreasonable on the part of the environmental protest to ask that. Do you? We are not a bunch of tree hugging whacko jacko’s out here protesting for the sake of stopping progress. We are here because we believe that if this is going to be done it must be done safely. We aren’t going to get a second chance.
How many of you have written letters to our district congressmen or our senators and congresswoman. How many of you have written letters to the local newspapers informing them about the disadvantages of an oil refinery in our area. People, I implore you to get active on this situation. Time is not on our side on this issue. We cannot sit back and say “With the price of oil down below $40 there is no way they can make money.” “With the economy in the toilet there is no way they can afford to build a refinery.” With companies going broke there is no way they can do this.” Suddenly one morning we wake up and lo and behold there is a refinery here. Let me pass on some advice a friend of mine told me once. I was living in Dallas Texas, and my friend was building a high rise office building. There were vacant office buildings all over Dallas and here he was building an office building. He told me that it was better to build on 1985 dollars and let it sit empty for 5 years than to build it on 1990 dollars when space is needed. The money saved will pay for itself in 5 years. Hyperion’s estimate on what it is going to cost for this refinery is on 2007 dollars. Actual cost is going to be much higher. You say they can’t afford it. Exxon Mobil’s profit last quarter was $46 Billion. You say they can’t afford it? Let’s start dealing with reality here folks. They can afford it.